Thursday, December 22, 2011

Festive Scenes

Christmas card from 2009 by Chuck Groenink, of Green Ink

from "The Night Before Christmas" 1961, illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa (source)
"Fox, Crow and Mistletoe" by Ryan Fowler, Native Vermont Studio

A Christmas Carol (cover art) by Howard McWilliam
from: The Bells of Fraggle Rock (source)

Christmas scene by PJ Lynch
"Snowy treehouse" Lee White

Jack, of course, image found here

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sparks Flew As Their Shovels Met for the First Time - the art of Rick Allen

Raven's Bauble

This charming Christmasy corvid mugshot is the work of Rick Allen, at Kenspeckle Letterpress which he runs with his partner Marian Lansky. So lovely! These are just the seasonally appropriate jems*, check out their whole gorgeously engraved library of work.

Winter Homecoming
* That is a spelling mistake, obviously I meant gems, but the fact that I made such an outrageous error makes me laugh so I'm leaving it in. Truly. 

Earth Magic

Beneath the Stars
Night Visitor
Lusten Fox
Sparks Flew
What is this "Trapper's Daughter" and where do I find it? And why isn't it published somewhere with these fine illustrations:
The Trapper's Daughter Takes the Otter Slide - seriously where is this book??
The Trapper's Daughter & the Bear Who Couldn't Sleep
Raven's Christmas
Ravens at the Window  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Winter is slow to arrive this year. October was basically September weather, all through November it felt like October, and now that it's December it only just feels like November. There was the sparest, lightest little dusting this morning, but it's gone already. We are stuck in the bleak pre-snow season of craggy branches and grey backdrops. It's dark by 4pm and still dark when the alarm shrieks. Delightfully melancholy, but more suited to post-Halloween than the advent of Christmas.

This semester was tough (hence my lack of luster here). Not because of workload - or rather not because of school workload. More due to work-workload. That's changing though, for better or worse, and I am job hunting for the first time in rather a long while. Equal parts thrill and terror, I tell you. Let's all hope that something lovely and fun comes along, part-time so I can stay at my favourite library too.

The Redwall gang heading to a winter celebration by Christopher Denise
I feel all craggy and grey, like the weather. This busy semester has left me with little time for stretching my limbs and they're in danger of atrophy. I tried doing yoga the other day and I felt like one of those aged newcomers who only go to the first class and bend over, forever suspended, fingers never reaching toes. Stiff, sore and old. That's how I felt. Weird. If this is a preview, I don't approve.

*   *   *

I have kept up with reading, moreso than usual during school. Not a reading-heavy semester so I had a bit of time on the commute or before bed. It's so very nice to slip into another world now and then, even a strange somewhat sinister one, or just to slip into the past. Now I'm starting in on my festive reading. Since the weather isn't doing it, the books should put me in a seasonal frame of mind.

(I couldn't decide which trailer I liked best... so you get both!)

Other Autumnal highlights include catching up with an old friend (how is it possible that we'd not spoken for six years? Six? Jeez.) and then there a was a brief dash to stay in a walled city. It's not far from here, but we don't go often. It was really nice, just for a couple of days, to play tourist and to eat scrumptious things. This spot is totally worth it, if ever you visit and feel like a treat. Also, just a block or so away, is this little chocolaterie which is what I imagine Willy Wonka's factory smells like. Go there just to breathe, seriously. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Woodland Home for a Woodland Creature (like me)

I'm tucking these away for future inspiration.
I'm going to turn into a hobbit one day right? That can totally happen.


*All images are from, found via Diana

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nicole Gustafsson, kindred spirit

The Naturalist's Study

Terrarium Tree
I came upon Ms Gustafsson's work at just the right time, I think. Summer has not yet given up the ghost but Autumn is on the verge of charging in with gusts of wind, ripe squash, and the yearly explosion of copper and crimson tree-tops. Not all of Nicole's work is autumnal but a lot seems to fit in with this, the best of all seasons.

All's Well at the Schoolhouse
The Conservatory
Blue Tree Books
Hare House (in the rain!)

Oh, the colours! They're so lovely. Trees growing in unlikely places, terrariums, lanterns, rain. I can't help but be smitten. I want to get all of her card-sets but I won't want to give any away.

Look at all the places you can visit her:

Lanterns. A detail of a larger piece, I think.
Mountain of a Molehill
The Geologist's Study
Whomping Willow

Monday, August 15, 2011

Papering your walls

Three days a week I work at a desk, facing a monitor. I like to think of it as an opportunity to attend a very small showing of artwork/photography. Needless to say, I click on my "shortcut to desktop" icon frequently to gaze at whatever's on display at the moment, to take tiny mental breaks from my work and take off on flights of imaginative fancy. Here are a few that have been on rotation this summer:

Photo is from Dark Nostalgia by Eva Hagberg, source


Seagrass, by Benjamin Lacombe


Venice, Decorology blog


Hobbiton, and A Hobbit Dwelling by John Howe


Diplodocus, NHM in London, by Antonio Torres Ochoa 


Lacock Abbey, by Brian Negus, which appeared in a couple of the Harry Potter films


The Storm at Sea and House Roller (from Burning Man) by Trey Ratcliff of Stuck In Customs


Amy Merrick (from her flickr)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Weathering Summer

Source: Photo by Daniel Cooper

I keep getting caught in summer storms. They inspire terrible ambivalence.

On the one hand: ecstatic relief. On the other: electric anxiety.

I love them. I love the wildness of them, and the way the sky churns like an upside-down sea. I love the trickery, the reversal of day and night. I love the rain. It falls as if weighted with lead, as if thrown down. I love the feeling that the earth is drinking deep, slaking enormous thirst. I love finding myself in the minuscule shelter of a bus stop or a parked car and listening to the percussive music of it.

I both love and fear the sudden zig-zag of lightening, and the wide-eyed counting before the thunderous boom that inevitably follows.


I was coming home on the bus the other day when one of the more violent storms hit. The stress is a bit amped up at that job lately (not necessarily a bad thing, but an adjustment to be sure) and the atmospheric pressure did nothing to help. That particular time I escaped getting soaked, but not getting panicked. The flash and boom were simultaneous and I sat there, peering out through the fogged window at the sheets of rain chanting Faraday cage, Faraday cage, Faraday cage, willing myself not to touch any metal surfaces.


Traveling in Montreal is precarious enough without fear of electrocution. Those bridges, especially the Champlain and the Mercier, seem set to crumble and I hold my breath as we cross them even in fine weather. When we must cross during a storm - oh my. My pilot is unflapable, but I am all aquiver. I want to pray for safe passage, but to whom? Sometimes being a non-believer is a real bitch.


Yesterday, another storm. Fierce, but fast. It was gone halfway through my commute. I was sitting, looking out at the sky as we inched along. The clouds over in the direction we were headed seemed greenish and odd. As if another, stranger storm was up ahead. Traffic was immobile. I pulled out my earphones to see what I could hear. Sirens, actually. Off in the distance. We got closer, eventually, and those weren't clouds.

A fire was clearly raging somewhere in my neighbourhood.

Shortly it became clear that getting out and walking was the quickest route home.

The fire turned out to be at the end of my street, a couple of blocks from my place. An old, abandoned motel was burning. The main road passes in front, and was blocked off and full of red trucks. Hoses snaked along all the roads around it, water pluming out trying to reach the dancing flames. A sizeable crowd had gathered, snapping photos, filming, observing. Our local security officer held court in their midst. I see him at the library sometimes, he's quite a character. I can just imagine him waxing nostalgic about The Great Blaze of '11 in the near future.


Today was the first day since spring that felt cool. Yesterday I wore a little jacket in the morning. Two days ago I saw a leaf fall. It was still green, but in tumbling from that branch it signaled the very start of the end.

Summer, with its relentless heat and lashing storms will soon be over.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shiny things caught in my net

Starry Night Over the Rhone

 A little round-up of some of the neatest stuff I've come across lately:

(via heartbeets/aka Sweet Anthem's tumblr)
Serena Malyon uses the magic of tilt-shift to transform Van Gogh's works into 3D. I think they're stunning.

View of Saintes-Maries, 1888 (detail)

Wheat Field with Rising Sun, 1889 (detail)
Mountains at Saint-Remy, 1889 (detail)


Camping in the Cotswolds: Junkaholique blog
A gorgeous blog to follow in general, but these photos of their recent camping trip are especially lovely.

Photo: Artemis Russell
Photo: Artemis Russell


Jen Campbell of This Is Not the Six Word Novel writes about Weird Things Customers Say at Ripping Yarns, the London bookshop where she works. It is hilarious, especially if you work with the public and most especially if you work with the public and with books. Start with the first entry and work forwards to the most current, which is #7. She's just announced that she will be collecting them for a book! Huzzah!

Customer: Hi, do you have any new books?
Me: We're an antiquarian bookshop - our stock is out of print books.
Customer: So other people have touched them?
Me: Presumably, yes.
Customer: I don't think I'll bother, thanks.
Me: OK.
(from #2)


Susannah Conway recommended this sweet peppermint lip balm by Oakmoss and well... it's lip balm! So I had to try it! It came a couple of days ago and I've been using it ever since. It's lovely. I ordered some samples of soaps and perfume oil too and everything was beautifully gift wrapped. Peace is a wonderfully spicy scent, and my fave of the bunch.
Photo from the etsy shop

Lucy Knisley is a talented comic-maker and I am a tiny bit giddy over her take on a certain beloved series of books. OMGryffindor!!! They're funny, so full of nerdy detail and do a great job of capturing some of the... (ahem) magic of the series. If you love them too, the good news is that you can download all eight posters from her website! The bad news is that due to legal trickiness she really can't charge for all the hard work that went into them and so is simply asking for a donation. I think they're totally worth it.
And look: she and her studio/roommate have re-created the Black Family Tree! Neato!

Book Four. Click to see the glorious detail! Or, better yet, check them all out on Lucy's site.